Many refrigerants are subject to strict EPA mandated disposal requirements and manufacturing limitations. HCFC-22 or R22 phase out regulations are set by the government to provide guidance to those industries that make use of the substance.
Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol – and subsequent amendments – countries around the world have agreed to curtail the production of ozone depleting CFCs and HCFCs. The particular conditions and deadlines applied to the phase out of R-22 are outline below.
- 01/01/2004 – The United States agreed to reduce HCFC consumption (including R22) thirty five percent below baseline values by this date.
- 01/01/2010 – The United States agreed to reduce consumption of HFCCs by three quarter below the baseline value. Allowance holders – specific firms permitted to use R-22 – are allowed to import or manufacture HCFC22 only in order to service equipment that is already in service. New equipment as of this date cannot be manufactured to utilized R22. The result of this is that no new HVAC systems using R-22 may be produced.
- 01/01/2015 – The Montreal Protocol requires a 90% reduction in baseline HCFC usage for the United States to be achieved by the beginning of 2015.
- 01/01/2020 – A 99.5% reduction in consumption of HCFC’s is targeted for the US. Chemical manufacturers will no longer be permitted to product virgin R-22 for the service of existing heat pump and air conditioning installations. This market will still be serviced using R22 recovered, recycled and reclaimed from old equipment that is being taken out of service.
- 01/01/2030 – United states targeting complete elimination of both consumption and production of all HCFCs, including R-22.
Modern alternatives to R-22 are now being utilized in new residential air conditioning systems. R-410A is one such refrigerant gas. This R22 replacement is a HFC blend does not cause ozone layer depletion, but does still have adverse global warming effects.
The R-22 phase out also effects applications that make use of any of the following refrigerant blends: R-401A, R402-A, R-409A and R-502. All of these refrigerants are made by combining several chemicals, one of which is R22.
If a residential air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, there is a good chance it utilizes R22 as a refrigerant. Most A/C units will have a nameplate clearly indicating the type of refrigerant used. On central A/C units, this nameplate is most commonly found on the condensing unit located outside.
While it is likely R22 refrigerant price will increase over time, the gradual replacement of old cooling units should eventually lead to demand for reclaimed R22 decreasing.